Friday, November 10, 2006

Y Viva España

For this posting, we head where the sun always shines, the sangria is cheap, and the locals are friendly, although they don't seem to be very keen on donkeys. Grab your passport, we’re off to Spain.

Eagle-eyed Filthy Pen correspondent Colvin Cruickshank snapped the above image in Nerja, on the eastern tip of Costa del Sol in the province of Malaga, after noticing the slogan on a bottle bank while enjoying a winter break in España in October 2006. Spotter’s badge, Colvin.

Having recently showcased a vile slur against our Muslim friends (click here to take a look), it’s nice to be able to redress the balance with a more general though equally controversial claim. This one has the power to distress anyone who, regardless of their particular spiritual persuasion, believes in the idea of a single creator and/or ruler of the universe. But what does the author mean by it?

There are two choices. The first is that the writer may be using the phrase as an allegory in an attempt to initiate a wider debate about sexuality and the church. Gays in the clergy, arguments over same-sex marriages, American evangelical leaders renting male prostitutes, randy Fathers chasing choirboys round the vestry… could the author be making a collective reference to such controversies?

The alternative is that what you see is what you get, and that it’s a literal reference to the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions. The culprit could simply be claiming that the deity is an iron.

That’s the thing about this piece - like the very concept of god, it can mean different things to different people.

Leaving behind its meaning for theologians, philosophers and art critics to bicker over, let’s consider it instead from a purely aesthetic point of view. The most striking thing about this graffitist’s work is the passion with which it has been executed. Look how thickly the paint has been applied. The excess has run down the recycling bin and resembles two bleeding wounds. If you believe in such things, you might think that what we have here is a documented case of bottle bank stigmata.

The Filthy Pen remains convinced that Britain leads the developed world in the creation and application of graffiti, but is happily prepared to acknowledge and demonstrate that Johnny Foreigner can daub a decent effort too. International submissions are therefore invited, and we warmly welcome this one – the first to arrive from continental Europe.

Of course, the fact it has been written in English may mean it was carried out by a British holidaymaker trying to stir up some trouble on their travels, and is not the work of a Spanish native at all. If it was a tourist, well done. It packs much more of a punch than just drunkenly flashing your arse to the Guardia Civil in the town square.

To whoever decorated this bottle bank, hola y gracias. Mi sombrero no está en mi cabeza, as they might say over there.

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